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Navigating the Temporal Landscape of Trauma


Hu, Laura D. (2021) Navigating the Temporal Landscape of Trauma. Senior thesis (Major), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/13ss-ch27.


Trauma transforms time and narrative. Psychological trauma, the overwhelming mental response to distressing events, distorts the manner in which its victim perceives and experiences time. The representation of trauma is not uniform. Authors use different approaches to speak the unspeakable, to remember the unrememberable. This paper examines three novels and their depiction of time after trauma: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Readings of these three novels engage with one another, enhancing the ways in which trauma can be understood. The synthesis of philosophical, scientific, and literary frameworks provides the multifaceted and necessary lens through which to examine the narrative of trauma. In each of these three novels, trauma leaves a mark—a remainder—that the passage of time cannot erase, and that even the altered temporal frameworks cannot fully represent.

Item Type:Thesis (Senior thesis (Major))
Subject Keywords:time; temporality; trauma; Vonnegut; Morrison; McCarthy
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Computer Science
Awards:Senior Undergraduate Thesis Prize, 2021. Mary A. Earl McKinney Prize in Literature - Poetry, 2018.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Weinstein, Cindy A.
Group:Senior Undergraduate Thesis Prize
Thesis Committee:
  • None, None
Defense Date:27 May 2021
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06032021-174301989
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14237
Deposited By: Laura Hu
Deposited On:03 Jun 2021 23:56
Last Modified:15 Sep 2022 18:26

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